Morning Glory?

Morning Glory?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Training and Mentoring

During these summer months, I have the opportunity to further develop a skill which I deem lacking in myself, and the privilege of incorporating that process into my formal education. I have chosen to discover how to develop a sturdy framework for a teaching curriculum. As part of my coursework, I am required to engage in several theological reflections throughout June, July, and August, which are designed to enhance my critical reflection about the skill, my lack thereof, and any biblical reference points I encounter along the way. I will include some here, and I hope they will be of use to you in your own ponderings and decisions, immediately and in time to come.

I have a Mentor for this skill and a Mentoring Director overseeing the class, and will be referencing them at times, as a matter of course. The first of the reflections if here:

During that last meeting she (my Skill Mentor), echoing the gist of my Mentoring Director’s thoughts a week earlier, helped me realize that my desire for the intended curriculum would certainly be broader than the scope of the TM course. She encouraged me to pick one aspect of the curriculum I had in mind, and to focus in on that for the sake of the summer class. I am sure that my specific attention will yield to a stronger foundation for the project as a whole.

Before that meeting, I had only known that I wanted to complete a curriculum. Now, I have set my sights on developing a framework toward that end. I can see a little bit more clearly that taking the necessary time to begin well will benefit me better than finishing poorly. I need to address questions that will help specify “a teaching curriculum for Christian leaders” to something more along the lines of “the mechanics of the first day’s lesson.”

I think of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt in Exodus 18, before he left Jethro’s company. He was trying to field the people’s questions alone, handling their disputes no matter the intensity. He had no rest all day long. In a similar way, for quite a while I have felt intimidated by the enormity of the task ahead of me, though with a strong sense of calling to exactly that task. The situation is probably best described as one of unresolved tension, where immobility is preferable over simply ‘grinding my wheels,’ getting nowhere.

The curriculum I have in mind has been just that—in my mind—for an extended period of time, taking up my attention without leading to much practical outworking. My tendency is to utilize abstractions to keep ideas from becoming reality, no matter how much promise lies therein for fruition. Like Moses appointed officers, I have now begun to seek counsel about how to give voice to the direction I intend for the curriculum, both long-term and more immediately. I envision that this process will help me to translate my enthusiasm more easily into measurable progress in the days ahead.

My life passion has not died, and has not lessened even after a few years. I believe that God has placed this passion within me, and that by it he is inviting me to partner with him in the redemption of the world through the transformation of those he has appointed to be leaders. I would like to believe that God is just as excited as I am (if not more so) about what it means to nurture my gift of teaching. Otherwise, I am sure I would have lost use for the creation of a teaching curriculum long ago. God is keeping me in pursuit of his plans for me, because of the fire within for seeing Christian leaders, and those following them, experience life change from accepting his invitation to come a little bit closer to him than they were yesterday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hideaway 5

This post is a little bit longer than the other Hideaway posts.  It is also the last one for the Hideaway series, if you will.  I hope that my lessons and musings have thus far contributed good to your own journey.  I have included the bibliography here as well.

Johnson, Jan. When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999.
———.  “SF 611 Christian Formation and Soul Care Intensive.” Class notes, Intersession course, Colorado Springs, January 20-24, 2014.
Willard, Dallas. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. updated and expanded / by jan johnson. ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2012.

God speaks, and silence is the context from which He speaks.  That is to say our attentiveness invites The Lord into conversation, and not necessarily our lack of words or activity.  When we pay attention to Him, we notice when He reveals to us basic truths about who we are, or challenges us about what existence apart from Him looks like, or else shows and invites us to share His deep longings.[1]  It is a silence of soul, which allows our spirits to cry “Abba! Father!” by His Spirit (Romans 8:15).  From this posture we can hear and receive all that our gracious God would offer to us, and reciprocate with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (cf. Matthew 22:37).
Perhaps more to the point, silence is the context from which we can more readily hear God.  Our Creator is not rude, but is patient to wait for and hear our cares and concerns, and endure our lapses in attention and affection, until we have come to the end of our words, after which we might come to realize the comfort of His presence, and rest therein.
As we have been made each from the love of God, and as we all are attempting to abide in that love, God is changing our perception of one another, that we can regard each other according to His perspective.  This includes care with our words for the sake of others.  I do not know how much or how explicitly this is stated among God’s saints, but I believe that God chooses His words carefully.  If we were to discern our current functional image of God, for example, and then seek to receive even more of who God is, we would certainly find that He fulfills and yet deepens our correct assumptions about His nature.  Keeping this in mind, we also, who desire to develop a lifestyle of communing with God, know that He is not harsh in revealing the divine nature to us.  When we discover the limits of our faith we joyfully long for more, regardless of our often timid advances toward that end.
I am grateful for what I have learned from four days spent away from many distractions.  During this class, which took place in the context of a retreat, I encountered God as my Beloved Friend.  I interacted with others both in silence and simplicity, in addition to the times of noise and laughter.  I was reminded of the journey on which God has brought me thus far, and I am encouraged to see the ways by which He is making me more like Him.
From this retreat, my view of God has developed, and I am more assured that He delights in me, cares for me, and wants me to be beside Him so that I can cooperate with Him in the transformation of my soul.  In once saw God as an aloof though beneficent Boss who basically had His own glory in mind and allowed me to have my small role in bringing that glory to Him.  I have come to realize the error in this way of perceiving the Almighty.  Though I am still learning what our friendship with one another looks like, I know that His strength is for me, because of His love for me.  He calls me to His glory.  God delights in me, simply because.  He is attentive to my life, and even to my words.  He longs for me—and all of us—to encounter Him experientially: to reveal Himself as the Love from which I find life, and to communicate to me that He wants communion with me, until I am found to be hidden within Him, and He in me.  This is the marvelous love of the Lord!  Imagine if Monday through Friday of every week were filled with opportunities to encounter this God.

[1] Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), 155-181.